Full Transcript is Below:
– What a special way to kick off Memorial Day festivities and also enter the month of June and to honor an NFM Salute in person, live, using technology, of course. Really pleased to welcome in our salute for the month of June, Chaplain Thomas Watson. Chaplain Watson, thank you for being with us.
– It’s great to be here, thank you for having me.
– So much to talk about, let’s start off by talking about your 17 years in the National Guard and then after that, you received a direct commission into the U.S. Army where you were chaplain, 2008 in Operation Iraqi Freedom. What was that like serving for the United States overseas as chaplain?
– Well, for me and my family, it was definitely a life-changing experience, but it’s one that I would put at the top of my spiritual résumé, if you will, so I’d been trained as a pastor, church-planter, and the one thing that’s a hardcore strength of mine is one-on-one and small group discipleship, teaching, counseling, and boy, did I get a lot of that during our deployment. So, living 24/7 for almost a year in close quarters with the people that you’re trying to help really sheds new light on living and breathing and what real ministry looks like.
– Curious to know how much the chaplain gets leaned on in times of war. Can you explain what that’s like and what your role is as troops are going into combat?
– Yeah, so it depends on the rapport of the chaplain and the type of unit, the type of leadership, but I can tell you that the leadership that I’ve served under very well supported the chaplain corps and knew we were there to help keep troops comabt-ready. So, some of the things that we were able to do and accomplish as chaplains is although taking care of the soldiers spiritually is on top, but we also served as staff officers and I specifically served to advise my command on the morale of our troops among other things that might be of ethical consideration. A lot of times when someone was in trouble, whether it was financially or relationships back home or having trouble coping on the job, they would usually come through my office first. So–
– I bet. I bet. If you could give us a glimpse into the psyche of troops when they’re overseas in this way, tell us, those of us that haven’t served, something maybe we don’t know about some of the challenges and the obstacles that troops overcome going through your office in these times.
– Yep, so have you ever heard the term battle-tested, battle-ready? That’s what I experienced with my troops. I saw a drastic change not only in their personality but their demeanor once we landed in country Kuwait and then Iraq. What you see is men and women who are trained, who agree to put their life on the line for their country and once they’re set into that role and the responsibility kicks in, they’re pretty serious about their job. So, what I saw was a bunch of men and women very engaged in the tasks at hand, laser-focused, working together, but also having to box out some things going on in their life, maybe back at home or forget about that job that they left or the company they started so that they can focus on our mission in the box or overseas.
– That’s not an easy task.
– Wow, I bet it’s not. I just wanna mention that you currently command the 136th Chaplain Detachment with the 139th Combat Arms Battalion Regional Training Center in Fort Bragg. So, in addition to that, you also opened up a real-estate firm, Realty One Group Revolution in Charlotte, where I understand you go to great lengths to help veterans, even going as far as giving away the majority of your commission in some instances. Why have you picked real-estate as a vehicle to continue serving and giving back?
– I really think real-estate found me. So, I’m a people-person, I love helping people overcome obstacles, and one of the things I think is my life mission is to help people succeed and realize their dreams. And the best way I’ve found, in America, is to help people become homeowners. So, when you own your home, then you own your destiny. And you can raise your family to live out their dreams. So, I found that’s a way I can give back and have a job that was flexible enough to still allow me to serve in the military and to still do ministry in the way that I do it best.
– Well, you certainly have made an impact on our audience, we wanna thank you for your service, both with the military and continuing to serve, as we’ve heard you express here troops who come home looking for housing. So, thank you so much, Chaplain Major Thomas Watson for joining us, thank you for your service, thank you for kicking off Memorial Day for us and also the month of June as our NFM Salute.
– And I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you so much.
– It’s our pleasure, we’ll talk to you again soon. Hope you’ve enjoyed our NFM Salute. If you’d like to nominate someone for an NFM Salute, either current or former military and also take a look at some of our other salutes, you can go to nfmsalute.com. So long.